Five rescuers and an elderly man were killed in northern Philippines after Typhoon Noru caused floods and power cuts and displaced thousands.
The most powerful typhoon to hit the country this year forced officials to suspend classes and government work in the capital Manila and outlying provinces. This was taken as a precaution, despite the morning skies being sunny.
The typhoon hit the coast in Burdeos town, on the north-eastern Polillo islands in Quezon province, before dusk on Sunday. It then weakened as it moved across the main Luzon region, where thousands of people were moved to emergency shelters — some forcibly — officials said.
Five rescuers who were using a boat to help residents trapped in floodwaters were hit by a collapsed wall then apparently drowned, said governor Daniel Fernando of Bulacan province, north of Manila.
“They were living heroes who were helping save the lives of our countrymen amid this calamity,” Mr Fernando told DZMM radio network. “This is really very sad.”
An elderly man died after he was hit by a landslide in Burdeos, said Garner Jimenez from the local civil defence office.
On Polillo Island, officials said a man was injured after falling off the roof of his house.
More than 17,000 people were moved to emergency shelters from high-risk communities prone to tidal surges, flooding and landslides in Quezon alone, officials said.
More than 3,000 people were evacuated to safety in Metropolitan Manila, which was lashed by fierce wind and rain overnight.
The northern provinces of Aurora and Nueva Ecija, which were hit by the typhoon, remained without power on Monday.
Repair crews were trying to restore electricity, Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla told President Ferdinand Marcos Jr in a televised meeting he called to assess damages and co-ordinate the disaster response.
Mr Marcos Jr praised officials for evacuating thousands of people to safety as a precaution before the typhoon hit. This prevented large numbers of casualties, despite Noru’s potentially disastrous force.
The typhoon underwent an “explosive intensification” over the open Pacific Ocean before it hit the Philippines, Vicente Malano, who heads the country’s weather agency, told AP on Sunday.
From sustained winds of 85 kilometres per hour on Saturday, Noru was a super typhoon only 24 hours later with sustained winds of 195 kph and gusts of up to 240 kph at its peak late Sunday.
By Monday morning, Noru had sustained winds of 140 kph and gusts of 170 kph and was moving westward in the South China Sea at 30 kph, the weather agency reported.
About 20 storms and typhoons batter the Philippines each year. The archipelago also lies in the “Pacific Ring of Fire”, a region along most of the Pacific Ocean rim where many volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur. These make the South-East Asian nation one of the world’s most disaster-prone.
In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest recorded tropical cyclones in the world, left more than 7,300 people dead or missing. It flattened entire villages, swept ships inland and displaced more than five million people in the central Philippines — well to the south of Noru’s path.